Tuesday, February 3, 2009

THREE STRIKES YOU'RE OUT

Okay, so an Obama appointee has had to withdraw after she too had tax problems (she didn't pay employee taxes for a cleaning woman I think it was). Same thing that occurred in the early days of the Clinton administration.

It's the old double standard we have in this country for Democrats and Republicans. The press didn't seem to bother too much with the vetting of Bush Junior's appointees, which is why his administration had more members who had arrest records than any in the history of the country. But you know that "liberal" press, always picking on the rightwing Republicans (as in how many can we get onto our news shows to repeat the rightwing talking point of the day). So, hiring felons, A-okay if it's Bush Junior doing the hiring (or basing your hiring on whether you are a fundementalist Christian etc.). But hiring someone who messed up on their taxes (have you ever done that? hired someone to clean your house and not filed income taxes on them, or missed including a freebie you got from someone you work for, or had someone else do your taxes and they messed up?), if it's a Democrat doing the hiring: uh-oh.

But a lot of this is on the Obama team for not handling their own press better. I'm not sure about this guy Gibbs, and Emmanuel so far isn't as slick as Rove was with the party discipline on the daily party line, though that may be impossible given that the Democratic Party actually allows for differing opinions in its ranks (I know Jim, the Republican Party does too, as long as you genuflect to Rush and repeat the daily line verbatim etc.).

[I wrote the above before Daschle withdrew. And now a man who was beautifully qualified to really make some difference on the whole issue of health care has been forced out by Republican opposition and the media play-along with his rightwing critics. Even Trent Lott just now on MSNBC (a conservative Republican who was forced to fall on his sword for the Bush Junior gang), a very partisan player in his Senate years, said it's gotten to the point where it's no longer about defeating your opponent or even opposing them, but destroying them, he called Daschle's withdrawal "another pelt to hang on the pole" of rightwing Republican vindictiveness. As for the party line Jim, I don't even have to consult the news anymore to find out what it is, I just read your comments, which, like today's, ironically gave the party line while saying you didn't even know what it is!]

13 comments:

John M. Lally said...

I think the difference is that the Democrats know that there has to be some give-and-take to advance policy. Their problem is that they advanced Bush's policies without any oversight. The Republicans, on the other hand, are going to the other extreme. With two wars on, and with an economic crisis, Mitch McConnell has signalled that the Republicans are going to filibuster every single bill that the Democrats try to advance, whether it be economic rescue, war, support for the troops.
The Republicans had a stupid ad campaign in the runup to the election in which they called Obama "Dr. No" for shooting down every idea the Republicans offered (i.e. drill baby drill, and tax cuts for the wealthy). It turns out that McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate are ready to say "No" to every bill the Democrats offer up, even before they read them. It just tells me they have listened to party boss Rush Limbaugh when he said he wanted the President to fail.
I only wish that the Senate's level of seriousness towards the economy were a guage of how serious the problem actually is. Unfortunately, I know better. There are people actually losing their jobs. There are people who can't afford healthcare, or to heat their homes. There are businesses going bankrupt. Congress is still playing games.

JIm said...

Hi Mike,
I do not genuflect very well now that I have had knee replacements and I am unaware of the Republican party line. Maybe you can enlighten me.

I have lost count on the number of tax dodgers who can not make it through confirmation. Does Daschle make three or is he number four? It is amusing to watch liberals who want to tax us all more, but find paying personal income taxes inconvient.

Butch in Waukegan said...

Michael Lally says . . .
. . . a man [Daschle] who was beautifully qualified to really make some difference on the whole issue of health care has been forced out by Republican opposition and the media play-along with his rightwing critics.

Bob Dole says . . .
I’ve known Tom Daschle for nearly 30 years.  I worked with him in the Senate until I left in 1996 and since then on such issues as farm legislation, energy, health care and many others. For the past four years we have worked together at the Alston & Bird law firm in Washington, DC.

The one thing I feel certain about is Senator Daschle’s honesty and integrity.


Matt Taibbi, in Rolling Stone, says . . .
When Obama picked Tom Daschle to be the HHS Secretary, I nearly shit my pants. In Washington there are whores and there are whores, and then there is Tom Daschle. Tom Daschle would suck off a corpse for a cheeseburger. True, he is probably only the second-biggest whore for the health care industry in American politics — the biggest being doctor/cat-torturer Bill Frist, whose visit to South Dakota on behalf of John Thune in 2004 was one of the factors in ending Daschle's tenure in the Senate.

But in picking Daschle — who as an adviser to the K Street law firm Alston and Bird has spent the last four years burning up the sheets with the nation's fattest insurance and pharmaceutical interests — Obama is essentially announcing that he has no intention of seriously reforming the health care industry.


This whole brouhaha clearly illustrates the pickle Democrats are in. Do they use their critical faculties, moral sense, whatever you want to call it, and oppose their party and its leadership when they're wrong? Or do they defend, excuse and prevaricate in the name of party unity? And the lamest defense of all is "oh yea, but they're worse, stop picking on us."

http://www.rollingstone.com/blogs/taibbiunbound/2008/12/the-whore-factor.php

Lally said...

Well, I guess the fact "Matt Taibbi, in Rolling Stone" says Daschle is worse than even the worst "whores" in DC means that he is, and that he would be some kind of shill for the healthcare titans that have kept prices rising and all of us in debt to them and helped ruin the economy, and that therefore Obama is full of it about wanting health care reform and Democrats who supported Daschle's appointment are all in cahoots and if only the Republicans were running things we'd all have health care and there'd be no economic crisis. Oh wait, we tried that. Oh yeah, and Democrats tried to get health care reformed before, but wait a minute, the rightwing Republicans successfully stopped them, with the help of a compliant media then too.
Dear Butch, Daschle had the experience and the knowledge to work the politics of the Congress and the board rooms of the healthcare world to maybe actually get some health care reforms through. To dismiss him as the worst kind of DC "whore" is not just petty jive that totally distorts his record and his commitment, but a perfect rightwing media coup. If he's a shill for the health care industry than why would he write a book proposing basically universal healthcare with one of the more practical (not just economically but politically) plans for doing it. And why would he give speeches to healthcare corporate audiences pushing it. Critics of the Democrats can never seem to get their stories straight. If Carter leaves the presidency and does nothing but good works, he's ineffective. If Clinton leaves the presidency and does good works but makes money too, he's not to be trusted. If Daschle serves in the military, helps pass all kinds of progressive legislation in his years in the Congress and then goes to work in a Washington law firm, he's the worst "whore" Washington DC has ever seen, except for Bill Frist who owns a company, owns a company, did you get that Butch, owns a "healthcare" company that he did everything he could while in the Senate to make his family's company more profitable and less liable (and who also diagnosed that woman in the coma from a few seconds of videotape) etc.
If you don't think that Democrats oppose their party when it's wrong Butch, then you haven't read a paper or watched the news on TV or read a Democratic blog. Democrats turned on LBJ and forced him to give up running for a second term because of the mistakes he made in Viet Nam despite all he had done on other issues dear to Democrats at the time. Democrats have always felt free to criticize their leaders, as opposed to Republicans, especially since Gingrich made his fellow party members pay dearly for it, and the Bush Junior administration made them pay even more (the whole dismissing of the Republican loyalist Federal attorneys who resisted prosecuting Democratic candidates for non-existent violations of voting laws to discredit their candidacies etc.). Democrats have been criticizing Obama and his administration since the day after the inauguration Butch. If you think Obama can find someone as good or better than Daschle, who not only deeply understands the workings of Congress as well as the healthcare industry and who has enough ties to both to have access and relationships that will help persuade each side to compromise and can successfully maneuver a bill through congress and the opposition the Republicans and all their rightwing allies will bring to bear (anyone remember those ads the last times the Democrats tried?), and the media will do its usual play-along bit with well, name them.

Butch in Waukegan said...

Well, I guess the fact "Matt Taibbi, in Rolling Stone" says Daschle is worse than even the worst "whores" in DC means that he is . . .

I guess if Bob Dole says Daschle is a man of honesty and integrity, he is.

Now that the playground stuff is out of the way, here's the real issue: Is there enough of a difference between the two wings of the political elite to make a difference, in this case to make a difference in health care policy?

You believe that Tom Daschle, who made a couple of million dollars over the last 2 years lobbying for the health care industry, will push for and implement fundament change in health care.

I believe that fundamental change will mean that insurance and health care companies will see a drop in their obscene profits. I believe Daschle will oppose fundamental change.

Your need to defend Daschle leads you to make arguments that don't stand up. Come on, you equate getting opening night tickets comp'ed - "missed including a freebie you got from someone you work for" - with being given the use of a limo and driver for over 2 years. Taxes owed: over $125,000! Would you excuse this kind of behavior from a Republican?

Butch. If you think Obama can find someone as good or better than Daschle . . name them.

Howard Dean, MD. Not the best, but better.

By the way, you should know better. The Democrats did not get rid of LBJ. There is no evidence that he would not have been renominated in '68 if he chose to run. The Democrats nominated Humphrey, his Vice President, who campaigned on Johnson's policies, including the war.

Lally said...

Oh yeah, and the comment that saying the Republicans are worse is a "lame" excuse. That's a cop out too. It's so easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize others (I do it too, obviously, but I have also run for office worked on many campaigns and done pretty much everything in every field I make criticisms of people in on this blog and elsewhere). But to compare the mistakes of Democrats (say sexual indiscretion between consenting adults) with those of rightwing Republicans (attempting to dismantle the Bill of Rights, starting an unnecessary war in which hundreds of thousands die, not to mention the rest of the destruction including bankrupting an economy, etc.) is facile and phony. LBJ made the worst mistakes of any Democratic president in my lifetime with the war in Viet Nam, but his Republican successor, Nixon, not only managed to up the ante and kill even more people as he continued that war and escalated it (after promising to end it) but to almost destroy the Constitution in order to stay in power and destroy his "enemies" which meant anyone who not only opposed him and his policies but even anyone who questioned them. This has been the case at least since then. In an ideal world there might be a political party that makes no mistakes and perfectly fulfills every promise it makes. But until we find that ideal world, I'll take the party that makes mistakes that might inconvenience a few people or make some money for a few than the one that causes the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and destroys not only our economy but the rest of the world's along with it. As obviously the voters decided they would too now. But you wouldn't know it from the media or the Republicans, or some of the comments on this blog.

Lally said...

PS: Howard Dean was a governor of Vermont, one of our smallest and least populated states. He has no experience with working with Congress to get laws passed, nor with the healthcare industry, etc. He's not even very well liked in his own party, let alone among Republicans. Daschle was. And if you believe there is someone in this country, let alone in politics or healthcare, who has filed their taxes perfectly throughout their lives and has never taken money for anything or from anyone that involved anything that might profit some profit seeking, even greedy, corporate interest, name them (seen Dylan's latest ad?). Including Howard Dean, yourself, myself, and Matt whoever. There's no one who is without sin. And if you don't think Democrats turned on Johnson AND Humphrey (for not breaking with LBJ's policies) then you know nothing of the history of the 1968 election. There were multiple, MULTIPLE, Democratic party candidates for the presidency who were against the war and totally undercut any chance Johnson or Humphrey may have had. Look Butch, if everyone had their way and the government did exactly what each of us thinks they should do, there'd be total chaos, it would make the dysfunctions of the Congress look like heavenly perfection. Because everyone has their own idea of what needs to be done. That's why we get together in groups, sometimes called parties, and agree on some policies and plans to implement them. And once these groups, or parties, get some experience in what it takes to get those policies implemented, those who are best at making that happen rise to the top in their group and use their experience and understanding of those ways to move their group's plans forward. Daschle was one of those guys. Frist, who your Rolling Stone quotee compares to Daschle, spent most of his life making money for the family healthcare corporation and a few years working in the Senate to forward the family goals of more profit and less accountability. Daschle spent close to his entire life making very little working in the service of his country and as a Senator to get his party's goals achieved which were often the goals closest to what I believe in—peace, prosperity that is shared and not just for the elite few, etc. and then four years of his life using that experience to make some money working for various healthcare industry interests, but at the same time advising them that solving the universal health care problem was paramount not just to his party's ideals but in the best interest of all of us, including even the healthcare industry's interests. And yes, he took a free car and driver and didn't pay taxes on that. I worked in Hollywood for almost twenty years and was often flown around first class and sometimes given a car and driver or worked for someone who was given that luxury and I enjoyed it too as their employee. I had no idea that was taxable. Dasshle may have. But he's a pretty smart guy and very experienced. I doubt he does his own taxes. I never did and I never made much money either except for a few rare years. I was audited when Reagan got elected, as was every other low and mid-level worker in Hollywood, interestingly. None of the stars I knew were. And who knew? It turned out that they wanted me to show a record of every audition I ever had (in those days it may have been five a day or more) or meeting (when I was writing screenplays for hire, which also could be pretty frequent) and how much gas I used to get there and back and how long they lasted and who was there. Gee, who knew? Otherwise I could not deduct my travel time or gas money as part of my work expenditures, even though, living in L.A. that is always your highest expense, especially as casting directors and studio sound stages etc. began moving further and further outside L. A. to save money, in every direction, so that sometimes it would mean an hour's drive or more to make it from one to another, etc. etc. etc. And that was just one item they questioned and because I couldn't show records for all of them (they wanted notarized letters from every casting director or producer etc. for every audition or meeting I'd had for the year). I felt pretty oppressed by this, and I think rightfully. But of course I paid up. The only thing that kept it from being too expensive was that the local IRS office lost most of the records I did give them, so we ended up compromising and reducing my fine and back taxes for something I was completely unaware of and which I thought was also completely jive. I believe, maybe naively—but I don't consider myself naive, nor a cynic either—that Daschle and Geithner and the woman whose withdrawal of her nomination this morning started all this, deliberately tried to cheat the IRS. I think these were mistakes by their accountants or just stuff that was overlooked unintentionally.

Lally said...

PPS: A perfect example of the mistakes people make is me saying toward the end of my last comment that "I believe" when I obviously intended to say "I don't believe" (..."that Daschle" etc.). But that mistaken quote could easily be used to portray me as believing the exact opposite of what I really believe. And I have been misquoted and misinterpreted and falsely accused and incorrectly described and had all kinds of things written about me over the years that were not true. Which is why I make every attempt to read as many sources as I can on subjects I'm interested in or write about, though at times I rely on what I think is a pretty good memory only to sometimes find out it isn't as good as I thought.

Butch in Waukegan said...

From what you write I gather you believe there are two things that make a good "public servant".

Firstly, the more your ideal government official is tied into the Beltway business-as-usual, bipartisan, shovel-the-money-to-the-corporations political elite, the better. Here you part company with the average citizen. Polls have shown for quite awhile that Congress has a lower approval rating (under both Democratic and Republican leadership) than even GWB! Something stinks in Washington.

Secondly they need to be a Democrat. Honestly, what would you say that if a Republican had Daschle's significant tax problems? I am guessing you would say it is an indication of either incredible incompetency or incredible corruption, and I would agree with you.

Caitlin said...

If I may interject. The bottom line is in my opinion, President Obama admitted to making a mistake. He is taking responsibility for his choices and saying "I screwed up". When did Bush ever do that? That speaks volumes in my view. There are no perfect people for these positions, but to be able to cop to human failings is an enormous breath of fresh air to me.

Caitlin said...

If I may interject. The bottom line is in my opinion, President Obama admitted to making a mistake. He is taking responsibility for his choices and saying "I screwed up". When did Bush ever do that? That speaks volumes in my view. There are no perfect people for these positions, but to be able to cop to human failings is an enormous breath of fresh air to me.

Lally said...

Great comment Cait. The difference between the Republicans in a situation like this and the Democrats is obvious, from both the actions they take and the reactions. If you listen to the news at all, you know what the Republicans object to in the stimulus package and you even know the changes they are proposing to that plan (more tax cuts, more infrastructure spending—though what they really mean by that is more spending on projects they're for and less on ones the Democrats are for, but the news doesn't report that part of it—and as of this morning, very politically smart they're suggesting a 4% mortgage rate), even though they were overwhelmingly defeated in the past election and Obama and the Democrats were elected to carry out their plan. But, also if you listen to the news, I bet you have no idea what the bulk of the plan proposes, the main things the president and his party are calling for in the stimulus package. That's because the Republicans are great at showing a united front and parroting the party line on a daily basis, and because every news outlet I pay attention to (including the supposedly most liberal of the liberal, like NPR this morning) dutifully reports the Republican line because it is very simple, very confrontational (which makes for better news than the dreary details of most of the package etc.) and because the president's plans are much more complicated and sophisticated and detailed etc. and that doesn't make for the kind of news story that can be summarized in a few minutes. As for Butch's idea that I'd hold Republicans accountable and not Democrats, like most on the left I've criticized and held Democrats even more accountable most of my life, and what it got me and the rest of us, were several Republican administrations that bankrupted our country, disregarded our Constitution, dismembered the government of competent public servants and replaced them with party loyalists and in the last administration with religious loyalists as well. The old trick of the Republicans, at least since Nixon was disgraced and they had no way of defending his actions, is to convince the public that there isn't any difference between the parties and their representatives in Washington, because as a minority of voters, they know that Republicans can only win if Democrats don't vote or get so discouraged they actually vote for the guy who convinces them he'd be the one they'd like to have a beer with (like billionaire Bush Junior from one of the wealthiest families in the history of the country and one that has held enormous power in our governments for generations, just a regular guy). And tarring every public servant who works in the federal government either as an elected official or an appointed one as somehow beholden to lobbyists and corporate interests and not committed to helping regular people and changing government for the better is surrendering to that Republican ploy and just as bad as tarring everyone in the military as some sort of war criminal etc. and just as much of a lie. There are plenty of well-intentioned public servants, some of whom make compromises in their lives to achieve goals they believe in. Maybe Butch never made a compromise in his, if so, why aren't you running for office on your impeccable credentials Butch? I believe Daschle is a good man whose goals for the most part are progressive and in the interests of working people like my family and most of us. I don't believe he's a saint. And throughout most of my life there have been Republicans I admired and believed were sincerely working for the betterment of this country and its people. Unfortunately, they have been mostly run out of their party or at least out of positions of power or opportunities to run by ideologues who care only about power and enforcing an agenda that benefits the few and harms the many, as they have proven over the past eight years.

JIm said...

Mike,
Obama and the Democrats must have really messed up if you felt you needed to spew all that blather to mount a twisted defense.

Daschle ssid it best. He knew it was time to leave when the left wing NYT editorial page came out against him.

As for the pork laden so called stimulus bill, Democrats can pass it if they want, since they have the votes. The only hold up is that some of them, including Obama, realized that they will be hung with it, if history is any predictor on the probability of govenments saving an economy.